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 16 sep 2020 11:27 

Nutritional labelling: informing not misleading

Copa and Cogeca, representing European farmers and agri-cooperatives published today their position on the front of pack nutritional labelling (FOPNL), for which the Farm to Fork Strategy aims to propose a mandatory harmonised labelling in the EU. As first producers of food, the European farming community takes great pride in providing EUís citizens healthy, safe and nutritious food and firmly believes that it is essential to properly inform consumers and help them in making healthy food choices.

For the European farmers and agri-cooperatives it is key that such information is in no way misleading and that it promotes products recommended by scientifically supported dietary recommendations. Moreover, any type of FOPNL should not discriminate healthy products, or penalise those which are the result of Europe’s cultural and culinary heritage.

As outlined in the FOPNL position paper for Copa and Cogeca members, the colour-coded nutrition labelling systems raise concerns mainly because:
•    Due to their colour system, they end up  presenting an over-simplistic classification of food products that stigmatise highly nutritious products included in all dietary recommendations. On the other hand they often promote products with no nutritional value or even unhealthy ones like diet soft drinks.
•    Such labels focus solely on a very limited number of nutrients (e.g. sugar, fat and salt) and energy intake. Moreover, they are not portion based (nobody consumes 100g of olive oil!). Therefore, they often paint some nutritiously very valuable food products red.
•    Many of the products they discriminate are GIs and TSGs products for which it is not possible to  reformulate and which are an essential part of European cultural and culinary heritage. Moreover, those products represent an economical value of more than 77,15 billion euros per year, and 7% of the total sales value of EU food and drink products.
On this occasion, Pekka Pesonen, Copa and Cogeca Secretary General pointed out that: “European Farmers and agri-cooperatives are supportive of FOPNL that is informative to the consumer needs and does not over-simplify the information. We firmly believe that we can find a system that could overcome the shortcomings of the colour-coded ones. Some effective alternatives already exist, and with some additional improvements they could constitute very valuable and better solutions.”

The FOPNL system chosen in the future should be science based and designed by an independent and scientific organisation such as EFSA, following dietary guidelines established in the same way. Nonetheless, no FOPNL can on its own guide consumers towards healthier eating habits. Much more effort is needed towards nutritional education and awareness-raising starting at the earliest possible age. A balanced diet should always be coupled with physical activity and a healthy overall life-style. A holistic, harmonised and science based approach is needed on this topic, not a simplistic one.

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